Sevilla FC midfielder Enzo Maresca hailed his side's fighting spirit and the "immense" performance of goalkeeper Andrés Palop after the Andalusian club retained the UEFA Cup with a 3-1 penalty shoot-out victory against RCD Espanyol, following a 2-2 draw at Hampden Park.
Maresca scored two late goals in the 4-0 victory against Middlesbrough FC a year ago but was replaced by Jesús Navas at half-time in Glasgow and had to watch nervously from the sidelines as Juande Ramos's side finally prevailed after 120 minutes and spot-kicks, with Palop saving three of Espanyol's four penalties. "Of course I feel very good because we've won this cup again," he said. "To win it two seasons on the bounce is incredible."
Chances came thick and fast at both ends in a gripping contest, and Maresca believes overcoming a fellow Primera División side makes Sevilla's achievement all the more noteworthy. "It was difficult but the important thing is the result," he said. "Being a Spanish team, Espanyol obviously knew us very well and that made it very hard for us. They played better after they scored their first but we kept on fighting and that made the difference. When they scored in extra time I was worried. Thankfully we had Palop in goal and he has been immense for us."
Sevilla have already lifted the UEFA Super Cup, are well placed in the Primera División and have a Copa del Rey final against Getafe CF to come next month, and Maresca and his team could end the season with an unprecedented haul of trophies. The 27-year-old is not looking too far ahead just yet though. "Now we just want to celebrate this cup – we'll worry about the league later," he said. "The other competitions are to come; we've already won two trophies this season so we've done very well so far but we need to keep going. Now, however, we want to celebrate and we'll have a big party."
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